U.S. containerized imports rose 4.1 percent in January year-over-year, to 1,475,608 million 20-foot equivalent units, driven by growth in furniture and auto parts shipments. It was the third straight month of year-over-year gains.
Journal of Commerce Economist Mario O. Moreno said the data from PIERS, a sister company of The Journal of Commerce, reflected continued recovery in auto sales and the recent improvement in housing sales, which are tied closely to furniture imports. Sales of existing homes have risen in three of the last four months.
Oceanborne containerized imports from Asia rose 2.9 percent in January year-over-year, following an increase of 0.6 percent in December. Moreno forecasts that U.S. imports from Asia will rise 2.5 percent during 2012.
Auto parts imports rose 19 percent to 56,662 TEUs in January, extending a two-year streak of year-over-year increases. Furniture, the largest containerized import commodity, rose for the third consecutive month, increasing 6 percent year-over-year to 167,294 TEUs.
Increases also were seen in the “empty containers, drums” category, which jumped 42 percent to 27,158 TEUs; miscellaneous metal ware, up 19 percent year-over-year to 18,989 TEUs; and footwear, which rose 4 percent to 44,277 TEUs.
Declining commodities included miscellaneous fruit, down 26 percent year-over-year to 14,023 TEUs; menswear, down 10 percent to 20,950 TEUs; lamps and parts, down 9 percent to 18,746 TEUs; and miscellaneous hardware, down 8 percent to 22,596 TEUs.
Imports from Northeast Asia, including China, rose 2 percent year-over-year to 898,599 TEUs in January, or 60.9 percent of total imports. Imports from China grew 2 percent to 709,410 TEUs.